LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Letters and Journals of Lord Byron
Lord Byron to John Murray, 25 December 1822

Life of Byron: to 1806
Life of Byron: 1806
Life of Byron: 1807
Life of Byron: 1808
Life of Byron: 1809
Life of Byron: 1810
Life of Byron: 1811
Life of Byron: 1812
Life of Byron: 1813
Life of Byron: 1814
Life of Byron: 1815
Life of Byron: 1816 (I)
Life of Byron: 1816 (II)
Life of Byron: 1817
Life of Byron: 1818
Life of Byron: 1819
Life of Byron: 1820
Life of Byron: 1821
Life of Byron: 1822
Life of Byron: 1823
Life of Byron: 1824
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“Genoa, 10bre 25o, 1822.

“I had sent you back the Quarterly without perusal, having resolved to read no more reviews, good, bad, or indifferent: but ‘who can control
A. D. 1822. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 621
his fate?’
Galignani, to whom my English studies are confined, has forwarded a copy of at least one half of it in his indefatigable catch-penny weekly compilation; and as, ‘like honour, it came unlooked for,’ I have looked through it. I must say that, upon the whole, that is, the whole of the half which I have read (for the other half is to be the segment of Galignani’s next week’s circular), it is extremely handsome, and any thing but unkind or unfair. As I take the good in good part, I must not, nor will not, quarrel with the bad. What the writer says of Don Juan is harsh, but it is inevitable. He must follow, or at least not directly oppose, the opinion of a prevailing and yet not very firmly seated party. A Review may and will direct and ‘turn awry’ the currents of opinion, but it must not directly oppose them. Don Juan will be known, by and by, for what it is intended, a Satire on abuses of the present states of society, and not an eulogy of vice. It may be now and then voluptuous:—I can’t help that. Ariosto is worse; Smollett (see Lord Strutwell in vol. 2d of Roderick Random) ten times worse; and Fielding no better. No girl will ever be seduced by reading Don Juan:—no, no; she will go to Little’s poems and Rousseau’s Romans for that, or even to the immaculate De Staël. They will encourage her, and not the Don, who laughs at that, and—and—most other things. But never mind—ça ira!

* * * * * *

“Now, do you see what you and your friends do by your injudicious rudeness?—actually cement a sort of connexion which you strove to prevent, and which, had the Hunts prospered, would not in all probability have continued. As it is, I will not quit them in their adversity, though it should cost me character, fame, money, and the usual et cetera.

“My original motives I already explained (in the letter which you thought proper to show): they are the true ones, and I abide by them, as I tell you, and I told Leigh Hunt when he questioned me on the subject of that letter. He was violently hurt, and never will forgive me at bottom; but I can’t help that. I never meant to make a parade of it; but if he chose to question me, I could only answer the plain truth: and I confess I did not see any thing in the letter to hurt him, unless I said
622 NOTICES OF THE A. D. 1822.
he was ‘a bore,’ which I don’t remember. Had their
Journal gone on well, and I could have aided to make it better for them, I should then have left them, after my safe pilotage off a lee shore, to make a prosperous voyage by themselves. As it is, I can’t, and would not, if I could, leave them among the breakers.

“As to any community of feeling, thought, or opinion, between Leigh Hunt and me, there is little or none. We meet rarely, hardly ever; but I think him a good-principled and able man, and must do as I would be done by. I do not know what world he has lived in, but I have lived in three or four; but none of them like his Keats and kangaroo terra incognita. Alas! poor Shelley! how we would have laughed had he lived, and how we used to laugh now and then, at various things which are grave in the suburbs!

“You are all mistaken about Shelley. You do not know how mild, how tolerant, how good he was in society; and as perfect a gentleman as ever crossed a drawing-room, when he liked, and where liked.

“I have some thoughts of taking a run down to Naples (solus, or, at most, cum solâ) this spring, and writing, when I have studied the country, a Fifth and Sixth Canto of Childe Harold: but this is merely an idea for the present, and I have other excursions and voyages in my mind. The busts* are finished: are you worthy of them?

“Yours, &c.
“N. B.

“P.S. Mrs. Shelley is residing with the Hunts at some distance from me. I see them very seldom, and generally on account of their business. Mrs. Shelley, I believe, will go to England in the spring.

Count Gamba’s family, the father and mother and daughter, are residing with me by Mr. Hill (the minister’s) recommendation, as a safer asylum from the political persecutions than they could have in another

* Of the bust of himself by Bartollini he says, in one of the omitted letters to Mr. Murray:—“The bust does not turn out a good one,—though it may be like for aught I know, as it exactly resembles a superannuated Jesuit.” Again, “I assure you Bartollini’s is dreadful, though my mind misgives me that it is hideously like. If it is, I cannot be long for this world, for it overlooks seventy.”

A. D. 1822. LIFE OF LORD BYRON. 623
residence; but they occupy one part of a large house, and I the other, and our establishments are quite separate.

“Since I have read the Quarterly, I shall erase two or three passages in the latter six or seven cantos, in which I had lightly stroked over two or three of your authors; but I will not return evil for good. I liked what I read of the article much.

Mr. J. Hunt is most likely the publisher of the new Cantos; with what prospects of success I know not, nor does it very much matter, as far as I am concerned; but I hope that it may be of use to him, for he is a stiff, sturdy, conscientious man, and I like him: he is such a one as Prynne or Pym might be. I bear you no ill-will for declining the Don Juans.

“Have you aided Madame de Yossy, as I requested? I sent her three hundred francs. Recommend her, will you, to the Literary Fund, or to some benevolence within your circles.”